4 June, 1989 - 20 years on from the Tiananmen Square and China somehow seems to have not lost some of its craziness to control everything. (They just banned Twitter, Flickr and Hotmail about 2 days back!) While China has made some great steps in the economy and etc, these actions seem to suggest a step backwards for them in terms of accepting how the world has changed. Today's main picture also seemed appropriate since coincidentally we dined last night at Hakka Republic, a relatively new restaurant and wine bar in Menara Hap Seng, which has a picture of a Mao-lookalike on its logo.
the starters were nice and light. Must-try here is definitely the steamed wagyu beef with ponzu sauce. They also serve these cute buns that reminded me of tau sar pneah!
Back to the food, we have heard good things about this place from friends and I was eager to try out their wine enomatic machine, hence we dined there last night. The place was a little quiet of patrons as most of them were inside a private room having a riot of time with their wines (2 old bottles around the 1980s were being decanted on the bar counter). Since we were the only patrons there, we had top-notch service and recommendations from the management there.
main courses, the dining area and the red wine, of course
Contrary to what everyone thinks, this place does not serve Hakka or Chinese food but they serve Western food. Some of their items have a Japanese slant to them, as the chef used to work in a famous Tokyo restaurant called Fujimamas. The steamed wagyu beef (RM120 for 100g) was highly recommended by friends and the restaurant. We absolutely loved the thinly sliced tender wagyu beef slices that topped cabbage leaves and sliced carrots. Steaming vs grilling the wagyu beef, seems to bring out its flavour more. Dip the thin slices with their own ponzu sauce (a mix of yuzu juice and soy sauce) or the creamy sesame sauce. They only use grade 9 wagyu here, as it has enough marbling to be tender when steamed. No lower grade supermarket quality wagyu beef served here. The marinated tuna tartar with cold green tea soba noodles and japanese citrus dressing (RM25) was refreshing with light tangy flavours. Even though the noodles were slightly overcooked and soft, we liked the tangy dressing it was tossed with.
our tummies were groaning from the food, hence it was a light ciku sorbet for dessert and complimentary rich fruit cake from the owner. See that tree, it is a reflection of the chinese words on the bar within the restaurant.
For the main course, we went with their recommendations and ordered the crispy duck confit with fig compote and potato galette (RM44), the miso marinated black cod with braised baby kailan and sesame dressing (RM44) and the grilled garlic, mustard, herb crusted angus beef tenderloin with chili roasted baby potato and portobello-marsala reduction (RM72). I was a little skeptical about the duck confit but was pretty good and not oily. One difference from the menu's description was, instead of a potato galette, we were served mashed potatoes, which I prefer since galette is not a favourite of mine. The cod was fresh, cooked perfectly and flaked beautifully when cut. Our only complaint was probably the part we were given was not fat enough as it a tad not smooth. Nevertheless, we did enjoy that dish and wouldn't mind returning for their kampachi fish dish (which was unavailable that day as they had rejected the fish since it was not up to their par!), in the future. The angus beef tenderloin was slightly overcooked (we asked for medium rare but it came more on the medium side) but still very tender and delicious. For light eaters and those watching your waistline, the menu can be quite treacherous as it has creamy soups and quite a lot of meat dishes.
I didn't get to snap Hakka Republic's enomatic machine since it would have been too obvious but here's some pictures I did take of the machine in Italy
Feeling very very full from that dinner, we opted for a light ciku sorbet as desserts were too heavy (bread and butter pudding, chocolate fondant and etc). The nice lady owner, who was at hand most of the night with recommendations, gave us some of their rich fruit cake drizzled with brandy sauce to try. Based on a family recipe, this version was the light brown type with fruits. Since most of us preferred the dark brown and alcohol laden version, this was a little too light for us but nevertheless, it is still very good especially for those who don't like their fruit cakes too rich.
For the wines, they claim to have the first wine enomatic machine in Kuala Lumpur (I've been told this may be bending the truth a little as some people claim to have seen the machine here before!). Having sampled the machine in Italy (per my pictures), I was fascinated to give it a try here. The machine can store a variety of wine bottles preserved with a revolutionary inert gas, that allows you to try wine by the glass. Depending on the machine, you can set how much to pour out (10ml, 20ml, 60ml, a glass and etc).
At Hakka Republic Bar, they have 4 white wines and 12 red wines in the machine. You can opt for tasting portions (about 20 ml) or half portions like what we drank (60ml) or the full glass. It is a great way to sample different wines (she has a selection of Australian, Spanish, French, South African and Italian wines including a Super Tuscan here) and not waste your monies if you don't like a particular wine. Unlike other places in town, the menu here is also a little different as below each food item, they recommend the appropriate wine to go with it by the glass with the price. Great for those who are very adventurous and when they are dining with friends who don't want to drink as sharing a bottle may be too much. We sampled two red wines; an Australian Robert Parker (RM24.50 for 60ml) and the highly recommended Spanish Bodegas Rejadorada Novellum (RM37 per 60ml). Preferred the Spanish one as it was more well rounded vs the Australian wine that felt a little too young.
For me, the draw here is definitely the enomatic machine since it gives me an option to try various wines I won't usually order by the bottle. Especially since most of my friends don't want to try the pricier wines or just don't want to drink, when we dine out. With my glass of wine, I reckon, my order would be their steamed wagyu beef, which I love and the refreshing tuna tartar.
Lot 2.05, Level 2
Menara Hap Seng
Tel: 03 - 2078 9908
(Pork free. Open for lunch and dinner till late. On Sundays, they have a brunch buffet. Place is located on the same floor as Elegant Inn and Xenri D'Terrace. For more information on their menus, wine list and other reviews by magazines, see their website.)
*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here is entirely based on my personal tastebuds and may vary for others. This review is time sensitive; changes may occur to the place later on that can affect this opinion. The reviewer also declares that she has not received any monetary or non-monetary compensation from this place for writing the review.
Tagged with: Hakka Republic + Menara Hap Seng
Other people who dined here: